Nights In

Review: me and earl and the dying girl

I was hooked at first sight of the trailer – this was a film I wanted to see.
 
The story, as the title suggests, follows Greg, his “co-worker” Earl and Rachel, a girl recently diagnosed with leukemia, with whom they form an unlikely friendship.  
 
Greg is a self-labeled “misfit”, who seems to float through life, purposely avoiding commitment to any real human connection or relationship – and so it is with reluctance that he first approaches Rachel, under duress of his overbearing mother (Connie Britton).  
 
Once both give in to the friendship that has been imposed upon them, however, Rachel and Greg form a close relationship that allows the film to go on to explore loyalty, mutual support and the discomfort of a sad situation.
 
Greg is a filmmaker with a penchant for cult classics and stop frame production.  With this in mind, the film is presented from his point of view and styled to suit that of one of his own creations.
 
Camera work kept pace with the storyline – at one point coming to a complete standstill for an entire high-tension scene, tautly strung on an emotional build up, during which the man next to me actually gripped the arm of his seat.  
 
This is accompanied with a clear, conscious and at times painfully honest first person narrative, which steers the ups and downs of a true emotional roller coaster.  
 
Greg’s character reflects much of the film itself; modest and using humour to address pain and uncomfortable emotion.  
 
Laughter bubbling through the theatre was unexpected of a film about death, but the script manages to maintain quirky humour without being tactless or insensitive to the issue at hand.  
 
It also allows space for heavier, more intense scenes which revive the reality the characters are faced with.  
 
The electro-pop soundtrack provides a light, youthful energy, whilst music drops out completely at times, leaving a heavy silence to engulf the audience at more critical moments. 
 
One of the major fortes of this film was the eclectic mix of supporting characters; Earl (RJ Cyler), who eventually steps up to be a surprisingly insightful proponent in the film; Greg’s eccentric father and Rachel’s alcoholic mother – a subtle, tragic reminder of the many coping mechanisms adopted in such a situation.  Had Greg or Rachel been miscast, the production would likely not have had the same effect – Thomas Mann and Olivia Cooke, however, provide two relatable, sincere and endearing characters.
 
I’ve never been to a premier before – I would imagine that people were a lot more willing or eager to laugh aloud or quietly sniffle in the cinema than at an everyday screening, and perhaps that alters the atmosphere a little.
 
Beverages provided beforehand may have helped the laughter along, but I’d like to think that the charming and witty script was enough to earn the warm reactions it received from the audience.   
 
I would also wonder if the selected audience gathered in the lovely Light House Cinema might have been more in tune with the many classic and cult film references sprinkled throughout the dialogue and set than other viewers may be.
 
Aside from the obvious play on cult films in the form of Greg and Earl’s film-making; “A Sockwork Orange” or “2.48am Cowboy” amongst others, there are many other clever nods to the classics – right from the phone scene at the very beginning of the film.  
 
Wardrobe is not something I would usually note upon when it comes to movies, but the colourful and quirky attire suited the style the film as well as the characters themselves to a tee – with even more subtle film references thrown about in the form of wigs, hats and movie t-shirts.
 
This film did live up to my expectations – light, heartwarming and just the right amount of feels. Unlikely to win any Oscars, but one I would recommend seeing, though Kleenex at hand definitely advisable for those who intend watching.